Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

August 15, 2014


Trigger heights: When to protect workers from falling

Fall protection

What is this year’s most frequently violated construction-industry rule in Oregon? If you are thinking “fall protection," you are correct.

Oregon OSHA issued 117 citations (96 serious and 21 repeat) for violations of its General fall protection rule (437-003-1501) between January and July. General fall protection establishes the fall-protection requirements for workers who walk or work at heights of 10 feet or higher.

This rule says that when workers are exposed to a hazard that could cause them to fall 10 feet or more, they must be protected by a fall-protection system described in Fall-protection systems criteria and practices (1926.502); there are some exceptions, however, which lower the height to six feet. These heights are known a "trigger heights" because they set the minimum heights at which workers must be protected from falling. Other construction-industry trigger heights apply to certain types of fixed ladders and to some steel erection activities.

The table below identifies the trigger heights in Oregon OSHA’s General fall protection rule. Want to avoid a citation for violating the General fall protection rule? Know the trigger heights and use an appropriate fall-protection system.

Trigger heights for General fall protection (437-003-1501)
Exposure to fall Trigger height Rule
Any Height Six Feet 10 Feet
Walking and working surfaces     x 437-003-1501
Holes   x   437-003-1501(1)
Skylights   x   437-003-1501(1)
Wall openings   x   437-003-1501(2)
Walkways   x   437-003-1501(3)
Balconies   x   437-003-1501(3)
Established floors   x   437-003-1501(3)
Mezzanines   x   437-003-1501(3)
Excavations   x   437-003-1501(4)
Into or onto dangerous equipment x     437-003-1501(5)


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But remember: the information in this newsletter is intended to highlight safe work practices, but it does not replace Oregon OSHA workplace safety and health rules.

For information about Oregon OSHA services and answers to technical questions, call (503) 378-3272 or toll-free within Oregon, (800) 922-2689.